AP Top News at 9:17 p.m. EST

Trump expected to tap Exxon's Tillerson to lead State Dept.
WASHINGTON (AP) - President-elect Donald Trump moved closer to nominating Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his secretary of State on Saturday, a decision that would bring a business leader with close ties to Russia into the Cabinet. Trump has privately signaled that he plans to tap Tillerson for the powerful Cabinet post, but had not formally offered him the job as of Saturday evening, according to people who have spoken with Trump and his transition team. Some advisers worry that Tillerson's Russia connections would lead to a contentious Senate confirmation hearing and keep alive questions about Trump's own relationship with Moscow.


Trump team challenges intel on Russian election influence
WASHINGTON (AP) - Donald Trump's presidential transition team on Saturday challenged the veracity of U.S. intelligence assessments that Russia was trying to tip the November election to the Republican. A top Senate Democrat demanded a full congressional investigation. The CIA has now concluded with "high confidence" that Moscow was not only interfering with the election, but that its actions were intended to help Trump, according to a senior U.S. official. The assessment is based in part on evidence that Russian actors had hacked Republicans as well as Democrats but were only releasing information harmful to Trump's rival, Hillary Clinton. The official was not authorized to discuss the private intelligence assessment publicly and insisted on anonymity.


Turkish minister: 29 killed, 166 wounded in twin bombings
ISTANBUL (AP) - Turkey's Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu says two blasts after an Istanbul soccer match killed have 29 people and wounded 166 others. The twin Saturday night bombings inflicted high casualties among police, killing 27 officers, as well as 2 civilians. In a address early Sunday, the minister said 10 people had been arrested in connection with the attacks.


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At least 60 killed as crowded church collapses in Nigeria
LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) - The roof of a crowded church collapsed onto worshippers in southern Nigeria on Saturday, killing at least 60 people, witnesses and an official said. The Reigners Bible Church International in Uyo, capital of Akwa Ibom state, was still under construction and workers had been rushing to finish it in time for Saturday's ceremony to ordain founder Akan Weeks as a bishop, congregants said. Hundreds of people, including Gov. Udom Emmanuel, were inside when metal girders crashed onto worshippers and the corrugated iron roof caved in, they said. Emmanuel and Weeks, who preached that God will make his followers rich, escaped unhurt.


Islamic State militants re-enter Syria's historic Palmyra
BEIRUT (AP) - Islamic State militants re-entered the historic city of Palmyra in central Syria on Saturday for the first time since they were expelled by Syrian and Russian forces nine months ago. The activist-run Palmyra Coordination network said the militants had nearly encircled the city and entered its northern and northwestern neighborhoods. The group, which maintains contacts inside the city, said IS fighters were approaching the city's UNESCO heritage site as well. Osama al-Khatib said government soldiers were fleeing Palmyra. "The army as an institution has dissolved," he said. Some soldiers and militiamen remain in the city, along with 120 families who have not been able to leave, Khatib said.


KKK, other racist groups disavow the white supremacist label
PELHAM, N.C. (AP) - In today's racially charged environment, there's a label that even the KKK disavows: white supremacy. Standing on a muddy dirt road in the dead of night near the North Carolina-Virginia border, masked Ku Klux Klan members claimed Donald Trump's election as president proves whites are taking back America from blacks, immigrants, Jews and other groups they describe as criminals and freeloaders. America was founded by and for whites, they say, and only whites can run a peaceful, productive society. But still, the KKK members insisted in an interview with The Associated Press, they're not white supremacists, a label that is gaining traction in the country since Trump won with the public backing of the Klan, neo-Nazis and other white racists.


Mexico's drug war marks a decade amid doubts, changes
CIUDAD VICTORIA, Mexico (AP) - Ten years after Mexico declared a war on drugs, the offensive has left some major drug cartels splintered and many old-line kingpins like Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman in jail, but done little to reduce crime or violence in the nation's roughest regions. Some say the war has been a crucial, but flawed, effort. Others argue the offensive begun by then-President Felipe Calderon on Dec. 11, 2006, unleashed an unnecessary tragedy with more than 100,000 people dead and about 30,000 missing - a toll comparable to the Central American civil wars of the 1980s. In some places, homicide rates have lessened.


Non-OPEC oil producers to cut output 558,000 barrels a day
VIENNA (AP) - OPEC has persuaded 11 non-members to cut oil production, a move aimed at draining a worldwide oil glut and boosting low prices that have squeezed government finances in Russia and Saudi Arabia. Officials said Saturday that non-members agreed to cut 558,000 barrels per day for six months starting Jan. 1, and that the deal was renewable for another six months after that. The figure was less than the 600,000 barrels a day that OPEC had hoped for. Those non-member cuts come on top of an OPEC decision Nov. 30 to reduce member output by 1.2 million barrels a day.


10 prominent early astronauts carrying on US space history
WASHINGTON (AP) - Early U.S. space history is fading with the death of John Glenn, the last of the Mercury 7 astronauts, and the 2012 passing of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. But others survive, veterans of a time when Americans were glued to their television sets to watch their heroics, from fiery Saturn V launches to ocean splashdowns. More than half of the first 30 astronauts NASA hired have died; 17 Apollo astronauts are still with us, including seven of the dozen men who walked on the moon. "There's going to come a time and it's probably going to be in the next decade or so when none of the moonwalkers are going to be left," said National Air and Space Museum associate director Roger Launius.


Lousiville's Lamar Jackson wins Heisman Trophy
NEW YORK (AP) - Lamar Jackson leapt over a loaded field of Heisman Trophy contenders early in the season and by the time he slowed down nobody could catch him. The sensational sophomore quarterback became the first Louisville player to win the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night, beating out preseason favorite Deshaun Watson of Clemson despite some late-season struggles. Baker Mayfield finished third and Oklahoma teammate and fellow finalist Dede Westbrook was fourth. Michigan's Jabrill Peppers was fifth. Watson, who finished third in Heisman voting last year, led a stacked group of contenders entering this season that included five of the top seven vote-getters in 2015.




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